HARARE – #ThisFlag movement leader Evan Mawarire and a medical students’ leader appeared in court yesterday for allegedly participating in a demonstration against steep fees hike at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ).
Mawarire, 40, and Ocean Chihota, 34, appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa charged with participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry.
They were released on $200 bail each and remanded to July 19 pending the commencement of their trial.
Following the publication of a circular by UZ authorities on June 26 to expel medical students from campus for failing to pay fees, Mawarire, Chihota and other students allegedly hatched a plan to violently act against the development, the State claims.
The court heard that they organised and gathered medical students urging them to confront Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura in a bid to force him to stop implementing the new tuition fee structure.
Mawarire, Chihota and other students allegedly marched towards Nyagura’s office while holding placards inscribed “fees must fall”, “my father is a teacher, tongoda 1 percent of the 15 billion inokwana”, “my mother is a vendor, tohurira (should we prostitute for )fees here?”
According to State papers, the students became violent and pelted UZ security personnel with stones.
UZ security tried to restrain them from demonstrating, the court heard.
It was alleged that the students were later overpowered by security details using batons.
At that moment, the courts heard Mawarire and Chihota were urging the students stop being peaceful and conduct themselves violently to force government and UZ to reverse their decision on fees.
Police officers reacted to the scene and Mawarire and Chihota were apprehended allegedly intending to flee in a car, the court heard.